NEW DELHI, Oct 19 (Reuters) – UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appealed for India’s support in mobilizing G20 countries to help debt-ridden developing countries, three of India’s neighbors. India already seeking IMF loans as their economies struggle.
India takes over from Indonesia as the G20 chair for one year from 1 December. India’s neighbors Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have in recent months sought IMF loans as high oil prices complicate efforts to recover from the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am counting on India’s support to mobilize the G20 countries around debt relief,” António Guterres told students and professors at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. “Many developing countries are in or near debt distress and need multilateral action, including the expansion and extension of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative.”
Created in May 2020 during the pandemic, the initiative has enabled nearly 50 countries to suspend $12.9 billion in debt service payments through the end of last year.
Guterres said climate change was “already a grave threat” to India’s economy, agriculture and food sector, and to the health, lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.
“Record heat waves, droughts and floods in parts of India are already causing havoc,” he said. “These are a taste of what’s to come without much greater global climate action.”
He said G20 countries were responsible for 80% of global emissions and should take the lead in reducing them. Rich countries should also help developing countries financially to do so, he said.
“I called for coalitions of support around countries, including India, with ambitious plans to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy,” said Guterres, who is meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday. foreign S. Jaishankar.
António Guterres also urged the country to unequivocally condemn hate speech, protect the rights and freedoms of journalists, human rights activists, students and scholars, and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. (Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Lincoln Feast)